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Episode 23: The 5 Best Spanish Resources for Beginners

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    Learn Spanish Con Salsa Podcast

    Episode 23

    The Best Resources for Spanish Beginners

    If you’re just getting started with Spanish and aren’t sure what to do first, this episode is for you. I break down my 5 favorite free and low-cost Spanish resources for beginners, and why you should use them. I also talk about things you should avoid and what to focus on at your level. See the links below for full reviews and discounts for the resources mentioned in the episode.






    Bienvenidos, welcome to another episode of the learn Spanish con Salsa podcast. In this episode, I’m going to tell you about my five favorite Spanish resources for beginners. I often get asked by people who are just learning Spanish for the first time or they’re really just getting started and they really don’t know what to do. First I’m often asked, well, what should I start with? How should I begin? What are some courses or resources that I can use as a beginner? So, I’m going to go through the five resources that I’ve found really useful, especially for those who are just starting out with your Spanish journey. Okay. So I’m going to tell you a little bit about each one and why I recommend it. Of course there are a lot of resources out there that you can use, but I find that these are the best ones to really help you get started with the fundamentals of Spanish.

    01:27 – 02:20

    So let’s get started. Now. The first thing I recommend for any Spanish beginner, and this is if you’ve never had a conversation before, or if you’ve had very limited exposure to Spanish and you can’t speak that much. The first place that I tell people to go is to your local library. If you’re in the United States, I’m not sure about Canada and some other places, but I do know if you’re in the U S you can go to your local library and you can get a program called Pimsleur. That’s P. I. M. S. L. E. U. R. and the reason why I say to go to your library is because you can get the program absolutely free when you go to the library. Now, it should be in a section on either foreign language learning or it might be in a section with audio books or books on CD because it is actually a CD program.

    02:21 –


    So, I would definitely recommend that you go and check out the Pimsleur Latin American Spanish series and start with the beginner course. There’s also a short course for Latin American Spanish and if you’re pressed for time or you’re really still just trying to figure out if you want to learn Spanish and you really want to pursue it, you could also start with a short course. I like the full course that starts with level one, it actually goes from one all the way up to level three. So it has 1A, 1B and I believe there’s a 1C and then it takes you to level 2, which is your intermediate level. Now, the why I like Pimsleur is that it’s really good for beginners because it really takes you through some very basic conversations so the way the lessons work is that you start out listening to a conversation in Spanish.

    03:11 –


    Now, most likely with Spanish, you’ll be able to understand the first few lessons because again, they are very basic and some people do complain that Pimsleur is a little bit slow. But I would say to stick with it. And here’s the reason why, after you listen to a conversation at the beginning, each word and phrase is then broken down and you are given an opportunity to repeat after the native speaker. And you do this several times. The reason why this is a good idea is I can’t tell you how many people have been learning Spanish for a while, but they still have a pretty strong English speaker accent. Okay? So if you start out this way, paying attention to the pronunciation from the beginning and trying to match your pronunciation with the native speaker, even though it may seem slow at first, it’s a really valuable exercise.

    04:02 –


    So, I would say even if you know all of the words in the first few lessons, really take the time to practice your pronunciation. Now, obviously since this is on CD, this is probably best done in the car where you are or you know at home where you’re somewhere that you can sit down and repeat without worrying about other people hearing you. Okay? So I found these to be really good. I did the Pimsleur Portuguese series for Brazilian Portuguese before I went to Brazil and I listened to these in the car. I’m on my way to work. And it was a really valuable experience because I was listening to Portuguese every day and I was also repeating it. So that’s the real value of this program. And by the end of the lesson and the lessons again are about 20 to 30 minutes, give or take.

    04:44 –



    By the end of the lesson, you’ll find that you’re actually able to understand the conversation at the beginning. So, they replay that same conversation after they do the whole breakdown. You do your pronunciation practice, they actually walk you through a mock conversation for each lesson, and then you listen to that same conversation from the beginning of the lesson again. So you feel like these mini victories as you go along, right? Because you start out not being able to understand something at all in 20 or 30 minutes later, you can really understand the conversation. So it’s pretty empowering to just sit and do a lesson each day and to really work on your Spanish pronunciation and your conversation skills. So again, you can pick it up in your local library if not, the program is also available for purchase and that’s really good too. If you want to get the MP3 versions instead of just having the CD, you can actually purchase the program and I’ll include a link in the show notes to all the resources I mentioned today so that you can actually have access to them.

    05:44 –


    But I do have a link available if you’re, if you’d like to purchase the first five lessons of the Pimsleur program. And for listeners of the podcast, as always, I’m looking out for you guys. I do have a discount code if you want to actually purchase the MP3’s for the first five lessons and that’s a good way just to test it out to see if it’s something that will work for you. The second resource that I recommend for Spanish beginners is a program called Mango, and that’s Mango, just like the fruit. Now, this is another one that again in the US I know that you can get for free at the library. So actually, when you go to Mango’s website, they give you a link to find your local library so that you can enter your library bar code and that will give you free access to the course.

    06:29 –


    So, this is completely online so you don’t have to walk into the branch. You can do it right from Mango’s website, which I found really convenient. Mango actually has courses for several languages similar to Pimsleur, but in the case of Mango it is actually an app that you can download. So they take you through some interactive lessons where you answer questions. But the thing I like about Mango over other apps is that it actually focuses on conversational Spanish. And as you already know, I’m a big proponent of finding Spanish that’s actually useful. Instead of learning words like boy, girl, man, woman, which there are programs that start out like that. And my joke is always, unless you’re talking to an invading alien civilization and you have to explain to them the concept of I men, you woman, right? Like those are not the ideal words to start out with when you’re learning a language.

    07:20 –


    Okay. So, Pimsleur and Mango both began with conversational phrases, right? Ways that you would actually greet people and again they are a little bit formal I would say, but it’s a good way to get started. If you’re completely new to conversation in Spanish. I also have a full review of both Mango and Pimsleur that I will link in the show notes in case you want to get a little bit of a better idea about how both of those programs work for Mango. I actually have some screenshots so you can see how the app looks and you can see if it’s something that will work for you. The other cool thing about Mango is once you get beyond some of the beginner courses, they do have some specific topic based courses as well. So some of that can be pretty fun. I believe they even have one on romance and dating and you know, they cover a different topics like texting in Spanish as well.

    08:08 –


    So, Mango has some fun stuff there as well that you can check out. The third resource I recommend for Spanish beginners is a website called study spanish.com. And this website has been around for quite some time. It breaks down various aspects of Spanish, but the thing that I like about study spanish.com is the grammar section. And now I know I’ve told you before that you don’t really need to focus on grammar in the beginning, but it’s inevitable. I know that if you’re the type of person that likes to know the meaning behind everything and you want to look things up and really figure it out, you are going to go Google search something, right? You’re going to say, why did they use this word instead of that word? So instead of doing that and mindlessly going through Google, start with the study spanish.com a website, go to the grammar section and they really a good job of giving simple explanations for a lot of the features of Spanish grammar.

    09:01 –


    So again, I wouldn’t get too bogged down in it, but if you have a burning question and you’re trying to figure something out, instead of just kind of being at the mercy of an internet search, start there and you might find the answer to your question. The other thing about study Spanish.com is they do have a lot of quizzes, so you will find that you can do a lot of quizzes for free. They do have a premium version, which I don’t really recommend. I don’t know if it would be that valuable. You can get a lot out of the free quizzes. You can still sign up for an account and you can get access to all of the quizzes and tests that they have for free. And the quizzes are pretty basic, but they’re usually multiple choice. But they are a good way to see if you understand some of the grammar concepts.

    09:41 –


    So I definitely recommend study spanish.com now I will say that they will try to upgrade you to a course that they have called “Camino del éxito” Way of success. I really wouldn’t recommend that course. Unfortunately It’s pretty dated. A lot of the audio sounds like it was recorded in the 1970s and you are listening to these very interesting conversations that probably aren’t going to be too relevant to you. So I wouldn’t recommend that. I would ignore sort of that section that’s trying to get you to upgrade to the course, but I would take advantage of the free resources for grammar and the quizzes. The fourth resource I recommend for Spanish beginners is a website called SpanishPod101 now they also do have a podcast as well, which I highly recommend because it gives you an opportunity to get a little bit of a taste of what they offer.

    10:29 –


    And I do also have a full review for SpanishPod101 as well that I will link to in the show notes. So again, it’ll give you a better idea about what you can expect as you go through. And I also give you some tips and tricks in the review about how to find some of the higher quality lessons. I’m on SpanishPod101 so, the way the format for this website works is you initially sign up, you can get a free account if you want to get access to more content, you’ll actually be prompted to upgrade and they have a lot of different options, in terms of their paid subscription. But I would recommend starting with the free subscription to see if it’s something that you really like. Now with SpanishPod101 they cover a lot of different topics and it’s all conversations.

    11:11 –


    So every lesson starts out with a conversation between native speakers and then after that they do an interview style format where they will usually have a native Spanish speaker and a native English speaker kind of talking about some of the grammar and different topics that come up in the lesson. So, that’s really helpful as well because it’s sort of like having a friend that you can ask, Hey, what did they just say and why did they say it this way instead of that way? Right. So they really do a good job. And breaking some of that stuff down. Now, the one thing I don’t like about SpanishPod101 in terms of the lessons, the way they’re arranged, is that they really don’t tell you where the speakers are from. In most cases though, they are from Mexico, I’ve noticed it does tend to lean heavily on Mexican Spanish.

    11:53 –


    But I do know that there was one episode I was listening to or one lesson and it was from Argentina and I was like, wow, I didn’t even know they had Spanish in Argentina on the site. But they didn’t really, it wasn’t really clearly identified. So, sometimes that could throw you off if you’re not as familiar with the different dialects of Spanish. But I will say nine times out of 10, the speakers on the site are from Mexico. So the lessons are organized by your level. So they have a newbie series. So if you’re a complete beginner, these are really good because they give you very, very short audio clips and they played them at sort of a normal speed and then they played them a little slower so that you can get used to native speed conversation and you can also have it slowed down so that you can understand it.

    12:35 –


    They also provide downloads for every lesson and there’s an app that goes along with SpanishPod that you can actually access all of these lessons and download some of your favorite lessons so you can have them right in your phone when you’re on the go. So, it’s a really good resource for beginners because again, it gives you those really short conversations that you can digest and as you progress and get better and better at improving your listening skills, you can move on to from newbie to beginner to the intermediate level lessons. Because I’m always looking out for you guys, I was able to get a pretty nice discount off of all the membership levels on SpanishPod101 for listeners of the Learn Spanish con Salsa podcast. So just go to the show notes at learnspanishconsalsa.com/beginner, learnspanishconsalsa.com/beginner and you will see the show notes with the links to all the resources that I mentioned today and also the discount code to get that 25% off of all membership levels on SpanishPod101 and last but certainly not least is a resource from our very own Spanish con salsa team.

    13:43 –


    When you first start learning Spanish, listening comprehension can be really difficult. you often find that native speakers speak too fast and you’re not quite sure what they’re saying. So, to really help with your listening comprehension we’ve put together a beginner course that’s called the five days’ Spanish ear training course and this is really good for beginners because we use music of course to take you through a practice that you can apply to improve your listening comprehension skills. So, you get a short lesson every day for five days. And again, this course is completely free and once you sign up, you’ll get access to the first lesson so you will get a lesson in your inbox every day for five days, and by the end of that week, with just 10 to 15 minutes a day of following the steps that are in each lesson, you’ll find that you’ve really improved your listening comprehension to get access to the five day Spanish ear training course.

    14:38 –


    Just go to learnspanishconsalsa.com/listen so learnspanishconsalsa.com/listen, and you can sign up today and get started with your first lesson. Like I said, it won’t take any more than 10 to 15 minutes and you’ll find by the end of the week you’ll have a process that you can apply again and again to improve your listening comprehension. So that is it. Those are the five resources that I recommend for Spanish beginners. As a quick recap, we have the Pimsleur audio program, the Mango language app study, spanish.com SpanishPod101 one and the five day Spanish ear training course. So check out the show notes at learnspanishconsalsa.com/beginner and you’ll get links to all of these resources that I mentioned as well as links to the full reviews. They give you some more detailed information and the discounts that I mentioned for both the Pimsleur course and the SpanishPod 101 membership.

    15:37 –


    Thank you for listening to this episode of Learn Spanish con Salsa. So, if you know someone who is just starting out in their Spanish journey, make sure that you share this episode with them. They may not know about some of these resources or they may want some of the discounts that I mentioned in today’s episode. And the next episode I’ll be talking about my favorite resources for intermediate Spanish learners. So if you’re a little bit past that beginner phase or you want to know what the next steps are, listen up for the next episode where I’ll walk you through how to go from beginner to intermediate and the resources that will get you there. Again, I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you learned something that will help you get one step closer from being a beginner in Spanish to bilingual. Adiós.


    Links and Resources

    1. Pimsleur Review (Get 25% off Pimsleur)
    2. Mango Review
    3. StudySpanish.com
    4. SpanishPod101 Review (Use the discount code SPANISHCONSALSA for 25 percent off basic, premium, and premium plus subscriptions. Sign up for SpanishPod101.com right now and start speaking Spanish from your very first lesson using this link https://www.spanishpod101.com/member/go.php?r=366198&i=b16)
    5. 5 Day Spanish Ear Training (Register for Free)

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